Goodbye to Windows XP
Effective midnight of 8 April 2014 wherever you lived, the sun set on Windows XP, as Microsoft turned off the lights on this durable 12-year old operating system (OS) for desktops and laptops. (An operating system is the digital engine that initiates processes and coordinates the overall operations of computers and smartphones and the applications that run on them.) No, it isn’t that Windows XP will immediately stop working! It’s that Microsoft will stop supporting the OS. This means that there will no longer be security patches and updates to protect the OS from viruses, malware, and other threats. Thus, the OS will no longer be a safe place to work and play. This event can represent a very serious problem, even potential crisis, because many essential services, such as those carried out by banks, utility companies, water and sewage treatment facilities, and ATMs, to mention a few, are still being carried out on PCs running XP.
I like the “eulogy” that Joanna Stern gave in the 18 March 2014 issue of the Wall Street Journal: “The default background for Windows XP operating system—a perfect blue sky full of cotton-candy clouds above rolling hills with impeccably trimmed grass and daffodils—is the spring day we wish could last forever. And fittingly, many people wish the operating system would last just as long. Introduced in 2001, Windows XP became so successful that Microsoft extended its support for an industry record of 12 years. Yet come April 8, XP’s sunny day is over.” The serene and peaceful default wallpaper of XP (shown in the picture below) can keep your spirit at ease and extend your life a few notches.
XP is still very much in use, to the tune of 300 million computers by some estimates. This represents approximately 28 percent of all desktop/laptop PCs in use today. The corresponding figures for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Mac Os X10.9 are, respectively, 49%, 6.4%, 4.9%, and 3.8%. You can see that even though iPad is the king of smartphones, Apple barely exists in the world of PCs and laptops, with a meager 3.8%. The leading PC/laptop vendors as of the first quarter of 2014 are Lenovo (13%), Hewlett-Packard (12.3%), Dell (9.5%), Acer (5.6%) and Asus (5.3%).
So, what precautions should you take? For sure, if you access the web via cyber cafes, you should avoid using computers that run XP, simply because they are no longer protected against new viruses and malicious codes. Unfortunately, the older computer systems, particularly the XP, prevail in most cyber cafes, say, in Nigeria. So, to be forewarned is to be forearmed! Failure to heed this piece
Aof advice may indeed be fatal, as your medium (drives) can catch viruses and be rendered totally useless quite easily.
You have a few options at your disposal, if you have your own PC or laptop that runs XP. Obviously, Microsoft wants you to move to Windows 8.1, the latest version of Windows that was released also on 8 April 2014. (Windows 8.1 was partly the subject of the past couple of articles in this column in Daily Trust.) Windows 8.1, whose interface is shown in the picture below, corrects some of the problems (in Windows 8) that had discouraged businesses and consumers from moving to the latter version of the OS. lot of water has passed under the bridge in going from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. We’ve had Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and now Windows 8.1. So, there might be adjustment problems moving straight from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. Windows 7 has been very stable and it has the basic look-and-feel of XP, and so it would be the easiest to move to. However, I am hesitant to encourage Windows 7 for several reasons: 1) the OS itself is getting old and may soon be phased out, 2) computers running Windows 7 are not easy to come by these days, 3) you will eventually have to move away from Windows 7 anyway, and 4) you need to “get with the program” and transition to a modern operating system, with touch-friendly interface. With the features of Windows 7 brought back in Windows 8.1, my suggestion is that you take the plunge and move straight on to Windows 8.1, by buying a new hardware with this OS pre-installed. Of course, there will be some learning curve, but it’s not going to be too steep. So, you might just dive in and get rid of your fear, with adequate preparation in terms of reading up on the new OS.
Big businesses and government establishments have a tougher job cut out for them because of the sheer number of PCs involved in their operations and the criticality of the services that those computers render. They could either follow the piece of advice I gave above, which is going to cost them, or do what the South Korean government is planning to do: “The Korea Internet & Security Agency, the state body in charge of managing the country’s domains and IP addresses, said it will step in and release free anti-virus software that will continue to cover Windows XP.” This great gesture of the Korean government is obviously an interim measure!
The bottom line in this article is that Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP, making the operating system quite vulnerable to viruses and other malicious codes.